Canal Plus Benelux sale closed

Vivendi signs off on pay TV deal

BRUSSELS — Vivendi’s sale of pay TV operation Canal Plus Benelux is done and dusted, according to Belgian economic daily L’Echo.

The newspaper claims top brass at the paybox have written to employees to say they have agreed to sell all three units of the company, Canal Plus Belgium, Canal Plus Flanders and Canal Plus Netherlands, for 45 million euros ($51 million). This is a far cry from Vivendi’s original asking price of $340 million.

Canal Plus Belgium, which operates premium channel Canal Plus Belgique and a bouquet of digital cable channels in the French-speaking part of the country, is expected to be acquired by investment fund Deficom and a group of Belgian cable operators. The cablers, grouped under the name of Association Cable Multimedia, still have to get the deal approved at a board meeting on Aug. 18, however. Canal Plus Belgium’s channels have 185,000 subscribers.

Deficom was one of the founding shareholders in Canal Plus Belgium in 1989, but sold its 30.5% stake in the firm to Canal Plus in January 2000 for an estimated $61 million.

Canal Plus Flanders, meanwhile, is the unit responsible for 202,000 subscribers of a premium channel and digital bouquet in the Flemish-speaking part of the country. Cabler Telenet is said to be the buyer for this section. The Dutch arm of the company will be sold to another buyer, possibly UPC.

The paper said that Vivendi’s desire to sell all three units at the same time could delay completion of the deal until the end of August.